How Do You Strip Teak Wood

Restoring furniture is a really good way to save up on precious wood. It also saves time and money since making furniture costs more and is time-consuming. The first step of restoring furniture is to strip off the previous finish that was applied to it. Teak is a hardwood that is softer than most others, not to mention it is a very water-resistant lumber. So it is often used in outdoor furniture, however, this also means it requires refinishing a lot of times. Before you refinish your teak furniture, you will need to strip it. So to help you out, we will guide you on how do you strip teak wood.

The best way to strip teak is to use a chemical stripper, cover it up with a cellophane sheet, and let it dissolve the varnish, lacquer, and varnish. Afterward using a plastic scraper, scrape the dissolved finish off. If you feel you have not gotten all the finish in one go, apply another coat. When the finish has been removed, use a sander with fine grit to lightly sand the surface of the teak.

There are many chemical strippers that allow you to remove the previous finish with ease. You cannot remove the finish by sanding alone because then it ends up clogging the paper. You can also try to use an electrical stripper, though it can be costly. People also apply heat using a heat gun to the previous finish and try to melt it off and then scrape it using a scraper. Though so far, chemical strippers are the most effective method of removing the older finish. If the finish is worn off completely due to exposure to elements then lightly sanding it will work just fine.

Step-by-Step Guide on Stripping Teak Wood

To strip teak you need to find a good chemical stripper. We recommend Citristrip as it has a pleasant aroma and does not contain as many harmful chemicals in it as other brands. You will also need cellophane wrap, a scraper, a container, and a sander.

Step 1 – Applying the Chemical Stripper

Applying the chemical stripper is nothing hard, just make sure to apply it liberally. Spread an even and thick layer across the surface of the teak. Once you apply the layer, it is best to leave it untouched for 15-30 minutes.

Step 2 – Covering with Cellophane

While not mentioned in the manufacturer’s instructions, a good way to ensure that the stripper does not dry out too fast is to wrap the area in cellophane wrap. This is a hack that makes sure that you don’t have to apply more than two layers of the chemical stripper to remove all the finish.

Step 3 – Scraping the Stripper and Finish Off

Now that the chemical stripper has dissolved most of the finish, it is time to scrape it off. Using your scraper, scrape off the sludge that has formed on top of the teak wood. Keep disposing of the sludge in a container since this is a chemical and can be harmful. Make a few passes using the scraper to make sure that you get everything.

Step 4 – Repeating the Process (Optional)

If the chemical stripper has removed the finish completely, you can move on to the next step. However, it is highly unlikely that the stripper can remove all of the finish with one application. You might have to repeat the whole process again at least once more to get the best results. This usually depends on how many layers of finish you have priorly applied.

Step 5 – Sanding

Now that the finish has been removed, you can prep the surface for reapplying a new coat on your teak wood. You might have to start off at 80-grits and make your way up to 180-grits again. This is because the scraper might have scratched the surface of the teak. If you don’t care about the scratch marks, you can just use fine-grit sandpaper on your sander to lightly scuff the surface so that the new coat of finish adheres to it better.

Tips for Refinishing Teak Furniture

Teak furniture can be pretty expensive to build. So it is a good idea to refinish teak furniture to give it a fresh look instead of disposing of it if the wood is still good.

  • Sand the old finish off thoroughly before applying the new coat. This allows you to make sure that the new coat is working properly and that all traces of the chemical stripper have been removed.
  • Use safety gloves, goggles, and a respirator when using the chemical stripper. Even if you use something like the Citristripper, it still contains chemical agents that can be harmful. When using such chemicals make sure that the place you are stripping the teak is well-ventilated or outdoors.
  • Apply a thick layer of the chemical stripper and cover it with cellophane so that it does not dry off quickly before dissolving the finish. This will help in reducing the number of times you have to repeat the process.
  • Use a sealer to seal off the teak furniture once you have successfully removed the previous finish. Teak is famous as outdoor furniture and sealing it off helps prevent it from soaking in any water. Even a water-resistant lumber like teak can use sealing as it can decay from too much exposure to water.
  • Using a plastic scraper is better than using a metallic one as it can prevent you from damaging the teak furniture. However, both of them scratch the wood, so sanding it is necessary.
  • When using the scraper try to move in the direction of the grain to prevent it from splintering.

How to Remove Stain from Teak

Teak wood has a lot of natural oils that make it water-resistant. When you apply a stain to your teak wood it does not penetrate too deep thanks to the natural reserve of oils. So it is very easy to remove a stain finish from teak wood. You only need to lightly sand the surface, since stains are completely absorbed by the wood and don’t sit on top like varnish, lacquer or paint.

Some stains can be very persistent and penetrate deep into the wood. The chemical formulation of different stains lasts for different periods. However, if the stain has penetrated too deep, then you can use slightly coarse-grit sandpaper to remove the material quickly. Then once the stain has been completely removed you can use fine-grit sandpaper to make the surface smooth to help the new finish adhere to it better.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a paint stripper on teak?

Yes, if you have painted over your teak wood, you can use a paint stripper to remove it. However, a paint stripper will not work for every type of finish unless it is a multipurpose stripper.

How do you remove oil paint from teak?

You can wipe the surface of your teak wood using mineral spirits to remove oil paints from it. It will take a lot of mineral spirits and elbow grease to remove the oil paint properly. Alternatively, you can also use a heat gun and scraper to remove the oil paint. Heat softens and melts the oil paint while a scraper will scrape it off.

How do you remove acrylic paint off teak?

To remove acrylic paint from teak you need to use acetone or alcohol. Wipe the surface of the wood covered in acrylic paint with acetone. It will take a lot of time and effort but gradually the acrylic paint will wear off.

Final Thoughts

Stripping wooden furniture is very common when you are refurbishing them. Teak is a wood that lasts a long time with care and is specifically designed for outdoor furniture in most cases. So it requires care and refinishing every now and then. Using a chemical stripper is the easiest way to get rid of the previous finish. However, you can alternatively try using an electric stripper or a heat gun with a scraper to remove it as well. Depending on the strength of the finish or sealer, you might have to go with two rounds of chemical stripper. Though only when you remove the previous finish can you sand the surface and prep it for the new finish otherwise the sandpaper gets clogged.

Martin Swizz

Hi! This is Martin, I like to research, experiment, and learn new things related to wood carving and other kinds of woodworking.

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